O Eternal King without beginning, You who are before all worlds, my Maker, Who have summoned all things from non-being into this life: Bless this day that You, in Your inscrutable goodness, give to me. By the power of Your blessing enable me at all times in this coming day to speak and act for You, to Your glory, in Your fear, according to Your will, with a pure spirit, with humility, patience, love, gentleness, peace, courage, wisdom and prayer, aware everywhere of Your presence.
Yes, Lord, in Your immense mercy, lead me by Your Holy Spirit into every good work and word, and grant me to walk all my life long in Your sight without stumbling, according to Your righteousness that You have revealed to us, that I may not add to my transgressions.
O Lord, great in mercy, spare me who am perishing in wickedness; do not hide Your face from me. And when my perverted will would lead me down other paths, do not forsake me, my Savior, but force me back to Your holy path.
O good One, to Whom all hearts are open, You know my poverty and my foolishness, my
blindness and my uselessness, but the sufferings of my soul are also before You. Wherefore I beseech You: Hear me in my affliction and fill me with Your strength from above. Raise me up who am paralyzed with sin, and deliver me who am enslaved to the passions. Heal me from every hidden wound. Purify me from all taint of flesh and spirit. Preserve me from every inward and outward impulse that is unpleasing in Your sight and hurtful to my brother. I beseech You: establish me in the path of Your commandments and to my last breath do not let me stray from the light of Your ordinances, so that Your commandments may become the sole law of my being in this life and in all eternity.
O God, my God, I plead with You for many and great things: do not disregard me. Do not cast me away from Your presence because of my presumption and boldness, but by the power of Your love lead me in the path of Your will. Grant me to love You as You have commanded, with all my heart, and with all my soul, and with all my mind, and with all my strength: with my whole being.
For You alone are the holy protection and all-powerful defender of my life, and to You I ascribe glory and offer my prayer.
Grant me to know Your truth before I depart this life. Maintain my life in this world until I may
offer You true repentance. Do not take me away in the midst of my days, and when You are
pleased to bring my life to an end, forewarn me of my death, so that I may prepare my soul to come before You.
Be with me then, O Lord, on my great and sacred day, and grant me the joy of Your salvation. Cleanse me from manifest and secret sins, from all iniquity hidden in me; and give me a right answer before Your dread judgment-seat. Amen.
O Lord our God, Who art Thyself, the Hope of the hopeless, the Help of the helpless, the Savior of the storm-tossed, the Haven of the voyager, the Physician of the sick; be all things to our land which ten years ago on this date was devastated by the cowardly and hateful acts of false martyrs; who imitated wicked Herod in his slaughter of 14,000 innocents, whose only crime was to be born at the time of Thine incarnation. For those who lost loved ones, grant the comfort you imparted to the Mary and Martha before Thou didst raise their brother Lazarus from the dead, and care for them as Thou didst care for Thy Mother from the Cross, putting her in the care of the Apostle John. For the survivors, grant them healing in every sense, as you strengthened and healed the confessors. For those related to and aiding the survivors and the families of the fallen, grant the strength and compassion Thou didst instill in Thine adopted father Joseph, who was Thy guardian in Thine earthly youth. For those who died, grant them remission of their every sin in Thy great compassion; both those who like the wise servant and the wise virgins, constantly prepared themselves to enter the heavenly banquet at any hour; and those who emulated the Rich Fool, preferring to enjoy earthly pursuits and ignore heavenly ones. To the rest of us, instill in us the knowledge that while the devil still manipulates our Divinely-given free will to his own ends in this world, his power is fleeting and ultimately void, as Thou hast already crushed his dominion, leaving to him only those who freely choose him. Remind us that, while evil at times seems to win, and the death of the innocent seems to signal the destruction of goodness, the innocent are at peace, and while the God-fearing will endure a period of torment, those who choose evil shall endure eternal torment. For those who hate us, speak to their hearts as St. Procla sought to speak to her husband Pontius Pilate concerning Thee, and as Thou didst speak to Pharoah concerning the Hebrews, so soften the hearts of those who seek our destruction. Spare us O Lord, from us all hatred of the murderers, and from prejudice toward those whose only crime is to be of their ethnicity and/or religion. Spare us O Lord, from paranoia and rash acts by which we trample each other like rabid beasts. Spare, O Lord, those who protect us, the law enforcement agents and the first responders, from despondency, disillusionment, and all things which would undermine their righteous calling to protect us in the manner of our Guardian Angels, and care for us in the manner of the Good Samaritan. All this we ask of Thee our All-powerful and All-loving Savior, giving glory to Thee together with Thine unorginate Father and Thine all-holy and good and life-giving and Comforting Spirit; now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen
It’s like a load has been lifted! After 55+ days of 100+ degree weather in Oklahoma, I’m enjoying a high temp of 72 today in Ligonier, PA. as I’m spending a week of residency at St. Stephen’s House of Studies.
The Rev. Constantine Nasr, longtime senior pastor of St. Elijah Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church, home of a popular food festival, will retire Aug. 14 as the church’s pastor for the past 29 years.
BY CARLA HINTON firstname.lastname@example.org Published: August 6, 2011
Twenty-nine years later, Nasr is still full of energy and his influential and enthusiastic presence at St. Elijah Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church, 15000 N May, is keenly felt: He just released a new book, his eighth, on married relationships, “Mastering the Art of Marriage.”
He continues to mentor young men on their journey toward the Orthodox Christian priesthood.
His dedication to the liturgy has never wavered.
Retirement beckons, however.
Nasr, 66, said he will preach his last homily as St. Elijah’s senior pastor on Aug. 14.
He said some health issues have caused him to see retirement as an avenue for rest and better healthiness.
Still, he and his wife Sharon will continue to live in Oklahoma City and he plans to stay busy with ministry, just in other forms like writing, missionary work and travel.
“A priest doesn’t retire — I’m just changing seats,” he said, smiling.
The Rev. John Salem will become the Oklahoma City church’s new pastor. Nasr said St. Elijah is in great shape as the leadership transition takes place.
“The church has grown. Even with people coming and other people moving away, we’ve had continued growth,” he said.
“It’s a wonderful thing to leave on a blessed note of harmony.”
The Rev. Jeremy Davis, assistant priest at St. Elijah, agreed.
“In terms of his legacy, he is the longest-serving priest at St. Elijah in its history,” Davis said of Nasr.
“When he came here 29 years ago, the parish was divided, there were financial problems, lots of angst and turmoil. Now he leaves the parish in place of peace and harmony, in good standing.”
Labor of love
Nasr said he was born in 1947 in Jerusalem to parents who had a fervent love for God and His Church.
He said he often walked with his Orthodox Christian priest father to visit parishioners on the West Bank. Nasr said his father’s legacy and a calling from the Lord helped inspire him to become a priest, as well. Nasr said his brother also is an Orthodox Christian priest and his sister is married to a priest.
Nasr said St. Elijah was a small parish with a church building at NW 16 and Pennsylvania when he arrived to take the helm in 1982. The church experienced much growth and in 1997 built the sprawling building that sits at its current location off the corner of NW 150 and N May.
Nasr said the church now has room to expand and possibly build more classroom space or an assisted living community. He said he is also proud that the church’s Mother’s Day Out program has grown in popularity over the years.
Nasr said the church has about 900 members, with an average attendance of about 450 on Sundays. He said on major feast days, attendance swells to about 1,300.
A major part of his ministry at St. Elijah’s has been in the role of pastoral leader to many men on their way to the priesthood. Nasr said he saw St. Elijah’s as a sort of training center because so many students and seminarians made their way there over the years in search of guidance and fellowship.
Nasr said his time as priest at St. Elijah has always been full of activity.
“We are 24-hours, seven days a week. I cannot fathom all the labor,” he said.
He said he saw the eventful days as worthwhile because he was following in Jesus’ footsteps in proclaiming the Word of the Lord.
“Christ did not stay in Capernaum. He went in the highways and byways.”
Meanwhile, the St. Elijah congregation plans to honor Nasr and his wife with a reception after his last service as senior pastor on Aug. 14. Church leaders said an elaborate retirement party is being planned for January 2012.
Nasr said he is excited about discovering the new ways the Lord will use him after he leaves the pastoral ministry. He said his excitement stems from his observation that numerous people are being drawn to the Orthodox Christian Church these days.
“People are finding the Mother Church,” he said.
Assistant priest Davis said parishioners are going to miss Nasr, but they understand that it is his time to do something different.
“There are sad people but that’s tempered by the fact that Father Constantine will still be around, without all the pressures of being a pastor,” he said. “People understand that.”